The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

The Catholic Church across Yorkshire's historic West Riding since 1878

Bethlehem Care and Hospice Trust

A Diocese of Leeds parishioner is leading a charity providing end of life care to people in Bethlehem: the city of Our Lord’s Nativity.

Professor Phil Hopkins KHS is Professor of Anaesthesia at the University of Leeds and a parishioner of St Joseph’s Parish, Wetherby. Whilst accompanying Bishop Marcus on the 2017 Leeds Diocesan Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he encountered the ‘Bethlehem Care and Hospice Trust’ (BCHT).

Prof Hopkins is now to become the Chair of Trustees of the charity, which was founded by our neighbours in Hallam Diocese with the aim of providing palliative care services to the people of Bethlehem.

On the 2017 pilgrimage, Bishop Marcus and the pilgrims visited Martha’s House in Bethlehem where they learned of the need for a local Hospice. Following the pilgrimage, Prof Hopkins used his medical background and experience of being a Trustee of St Gemma’s Hospice in Leeds to set out options for palliative care in Bethlehem.

After finally securing some much-needed funding, BCHT launched the West Bank’s first palliative care service on 1 August last year, with ‘Home Hospice’ care delivered to patients of any faith or none in their homes by a core team of palliative care nurses.

Despite and throughout the restrictions imposed on daily life in the West Bank since 7 October 2023, the service has grown. At any one time, the charity is meeting the needs of 35-45 very sick people, including children. Bethlehem is a city heavily reliant on tourism and many families’ livelihoods have been lost since the conflict began.

The BCHT’s Home Hospice Service office was generously made available to the charity by Fr Rami Asakrieh, Parish Priest of St Catherine’s which adjoins the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem’s Manger Square.

Not all are so fortunate with their accommodation, though: Prof Hopkins and fellow Trustee Fr Gus O’Reilly of Hallam Diocese accompanied members of the BCHT nursing team on a visit to a young man with an incurable brain tumour; the patient and his mother were living in a building which was unfinished and at first sight looked uninhabitable.

To find out more about the wonderful work of BCHT – and crucially to support this vital service of loving care as we approach the Jubilee of Hope – please visit the charity’s website:

BCHT Trustees Prof Phil Hopkins (2nd from R) & Fr Gus O’Reilly on their August 2023 visit to Bethlehem

BCHT’s Palliative Care Nursing Team

Visiting a patient and his mother who are living in an unfinished building